Asian woman after a workout

Does your new acne breakout feel different? Maybe it seems resistant to acne-fighting medications, such as salicylic acid? You may need to talk to your dermatologist and check for fungal acne. In this Ask the Expert feature, we talk to Bless Besanezon about the causes and triggers of fungal acne and how to treat it.

What Is Fungal Acne?

Regular acne (acne vulgaris) occurs when pores become clogged with sebum and bacteria. On the other hand, fungal acne is an inflammation of the hair follicle, also known as folliculitis, according to the Philippine Dermatological Society. 

Oil and bacteria also contribute to this type of . However, an overgrowth of a yeast called Malassezia is the primary culprit. Everyone has this yeast in their skin, but any imbalance can lead to skin irritation. On the scalp, overgrowth of . Fungal acne is not contagious.

How does fungal acne look?

It can develop anywhere you have hair follicles, including the face (especially near the hairline), shoulders, chest, and back. Fungal acne may look like regular acne, but the difference is it can get itchy and even feel like it’s burning. However, it’s not contagious despite being caused by fungi.

What Triggers Fungal Acne?

Any activity or condition that disrupts the balance of bacteria and fungi can trigger fungal acne. These include:

• Moist, warm, and tight environments. Sweat that’s trapped between tight clothing and the skin is a breeding ground for fungal acne. This is common with , non-breathable undergarments, and super skinny tops and pants. Choose breathable fabrics to allow your skin to breathe and change immediately after working out or sweating to prevent fungal acne.

• Diet and medication. What goes into your body can also trigger an imbalance. Medication can reduce bacteria and allow for an overgrowth of fungus. A high-sugar, carb-rich diet can also trigger fungal acne.

How to avoid fungal acne triggers?

Practicing proper hygiene and eating a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of fungal acne. Shower regularly to wash away unwanted, acne-causing bacteria. Stay dry since moisture, especially from sweat, makes a delicious breeding ground for bacteria.

Fungal Acne Treatment

Because they can look so much like acne, you may try to treat the condition with regular treatments. According to Dr. Bless, “Regular acne-fighting products can help prevent the onset of fungal acne when it’s related to improper hygiene or excess oil on the skin. However, proper treatment would require the use of products with anti-fungal agents.”

“Facial cleansing products like POND'S Bright Miracle Ultimate Acne Control Facial Foam and Eskinol Facial Deep Cleanser Oil Control with Pure Lemon Extract can help prevent its onset on susceptible areas, such as the upper forehead and near the hairline, with regular use. Soaps like Lifebuoy can help prevent fungal acne related to proper hygiene in areas of the body that are frequently covered by occlusive clothing, such as the chest and back,” she adds.

Get to the root of fungal acne by talking to your dermatologist for a proper diagnosis. In the meantime, maintain a proper acne-fighting skincare routine to keep pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads from joining the mix.